By Oleg Fastovsky, an attorney with the Maryland Criminal Defense Group representing clients who have been charged with a wide array of criminal offenses.
When candidate Trump was running for president, immigration reform was one of his major rallying cries, like building a wall between the U.S. and Mexico. Since he has taken office, U.S. Immigration and Customs Enforcement’s (ICE) has dramatically increased the number of raids and deportations that have taken place.
According to some estimates, ICE, under the umbrella of the Department of Homeland Security, has arrested approximately more than 30 percent of people in 2017 compared to last year, under the Obama administration.
One of the major criteria of those being deported, according to the administration, is targeting those illegal immigrants who have a criminal record. Unlike past administrations, who targeted those with high-level offenses like rape and murder, the current administration is also going after those who have been convicted of low-level offenses.
In January, Trump issues an executive order that proclaimed that any illegal immigrant who has been charged with a criminal offense, convicted of a criminal offense, or has committed acts that constitute a chargeable criminal offense are subject to deportation.
According to Homeland Security Secretary John Kelly, the deportation threshold is much lower now than in the past. Kelly pointed out in a recent interview that even someone who has been convicted of a single drunk driving charge could face deportation.
These sentiments were also echoed by Attorney General Jeff Sessions, who has said that the country has entered a new era over how it deals with immigration issues, referring to it as the “Trump era” in a speech to border patrol agents.
Sessions also recently sent out a memo to federal prosecutors, urging them to prosecute anyone who harbors illegal immigrants, particularly those who are found to be harboring three or more illegals.
Despite the spike in ICE arrests, the number of deportations has only increased slightly from the Obama administration. An ICE spokesperson blames government bureaucracy for the delay in actually deporting the people who have been arrested.
In a discussion about the new immigration reforms, Attorney Oleg Fastovsky commented, “It is disconcerting not only the numbers of people ICE is arresting, but also the months these people are being forced to sit in limbo, waiting for hearings to find out what their future holds.”